That many publishers don't do that already is a mystery, probably because visitors with ad-blocking are still a minority and publishers don't want to piss them off.
As a disclaimer I was in a team working on such technology. The hardest to beat is uBlock Origin, being the most capable from a technical perspective. And we left it completely alone, a good strategy for angry users having a last resort solution to migrate to instead of investigating why AdBlock Plus isn't working.
And also by not having a company behind it, a partnership with uBlock Origin for "acceptable ads" isn't possible. Which is why the whole industry, Google included, is scared of it and it's no wonder that they've taken steps to kill it in Chrome for desktop ;-)
I'm really glad you brought that up, because it's an interesting dynamic. Industries generally know how to deal with companies and senators. People like Gorhill though are hard to control using conventional strategies, because they're not getting any money out of it, they don't have supply chains or a duty to investors that you can exploit. They're just people doing stuff.
This can obviously be both a positive and a negative. But when people talk about competitive and regulatory forces, it's important to remember that some forces also come from outside of the system.
Adblocking is legal, but another good (less legal) example is Sci-hub. Sci-hub is just as large of an actor in the debate about academic publishing as any other official institution, but it refuses to be subject to the same rules as those institutions. If you're a traditional publisher, you can't reason with Sci-hub. None of the conventional strategies you would use on a competitor work for Sci-hub.
In general, if you're a business, you would prefer to only deal with other businesses and (to an extent) the government. Purely ideological actors, or people who don't pay attention to the conventional rules of engagement are much more annoying. You have to find some kind of leverage over those people so they can't cause as much trouble.
I don't doubt that part of the reason Google is locking down extensions is for security. I'm also sure that there are executives at Google who look at locked-down extension APIs and the inability to side-load extensions as a way of locking out people like Gorhill, and making sure the debate over acceptable ads is primarily restricted to industry players. For them, the fact that these policies improve some aspects of security is just a bonus.
Because that exact kind of supply-chain attack thing happened to the original version. (ublock)
Nor were individuals the only players to take advantage of the powers available to old extensions.
There are also legitimate security reasons why browsers such as Firefox have restricted side-loading add-ons on consumer operating systems such as Windows.
There's a debate to be had about whether security for most users is worth the trade-off in flexibility for power users. But regardless of any other reasons we might speculate, the arguments that have been presented in favor of such changes are already compelling enough on their own and need to be seriously addressed.
That they work for now is only temporary.
There's also the elephant in the room:
1. Those content blockers don't work in webviews and most apps on iOS open urls in web views with no way to choose Safari
2. Apps have no ad blockers either
Gmail on iOS is especially annoying because we often have to open links that require sign-in (e.g. Github) and there's no way to make it open Safari, but it does have an option for opening "Chrome" (also a shell around an iOS webview).
But I love seeing people sticking it to the man :-)
This is false. GMail has settings for choosing chrome or safari - settings > default apps.
I was mainly addressing the situation on desktop, such as Safari on macOS, since the previous comments were discussing changes to desktop browsers.
What's even the point of having a system-level solution if it doesn't work on system-level webviews?
Are you a Safari user? I'm trying to understand why you are so obsessive over this minor (to the majority of Safari users) "issue".
Regardless, we all deserve privacy and I suggest everyone use either an extension OR a content blocker. I don't care. Just stick it to those scum bags mining your data to send you "targeted" ads. That we can agree on!
edit: Cannot reply to bad_user for whatever reason. Regardless, I think we're both on the same page arguing about the same thing in different ways. Let's agree to disagree? <3 my man. Take it easy.
Safari's content blockers simply suck at what they do.
And yes, I'm an iPhone user.
And indeed there's the privacy angle, however... (1) laws like the GDPR are far more effective at fighting that and (2) ads don't have to actually do personalisation to work and indeed, now that GDPR is in, in the EU many publishers are turning to less intrusive advertising.
I also think many users block ads for reasons unrelated to privacy.
As proof, whenever a new restriction happens for a free service without ads, you only need to witness the outrage, like for example when Dropbox limited its free service to sync with only 3 devices, or when OneDrive lowered the storage provided on its free tier, etc. Also witness, for all the bitching and moaning about privacy issues, how many people here are still using a @gmail.com address.
Truth of the matter is many people want to eat their cake and have it too. Most people just wants free stuff without any inconvenience. and it's hard to take them seriously.
Don't get me wrong, I'm using an ad-blocker myself. However I'm also paying for the content I'm consuming whenever I can, if it has any value to me. I happily pay for YouTube Premium for example, also for Fastmail, Dropbox, Newsblur and others.
So how do I feel? I'm feeling fine to be honest.
Specifically, you used the word "harm" which implies that you understand that your actions can actually harm others. I'd give that a solid - "don't do it". Love thy neighbor, brother.
If you think back to the early days, ads were often just static images. If we could go back to that, I don't see much of a problem with them, other than being ugly. Ads would be acceptable to me if they just got rid of
2) user profiling,
Kind of like newspaper ads. They don't have to assault you and find out where you live to be effective.
Yes, it does ultimately make it easier to block ads, but
1) Users who want to do that are always going to, and I'll always stay on the side of freedom for the user. We might as well ditch ad blockers and their performance issues if we can.
3) Performance and privacy can be kept in the hands of the user. This also means GDPR consent and a whole host of other stuff can be handled directly by the browser too. Asking the user to allow ads can be built right in and privacy is preserved if they say no which is better than all the consent dialogs we've got today.
Would be interested in everyone's thoughts on this. My approach probably will result in it being more difficult to ask content, but it preserves privacy and performance to the extent the user is willing.
And I'm also no longer on that team.
Any site that goes through trouble of blocking ad blockers I just avoid.